Thai women accused of royal defamation end hunger strike after 52 days
Bangkok, Mar 11 (EFE).- Two Thai women accused of royal defamation who withdrew their bail to return to prison to demand justice reform have ended a hunger strike after 52 days.
Orawan Phuphong, 23, and Tantawan Tuatulanon, 21, made the announcement on Facebook on Saturday, saying that they are ending the hunger strike to “save” their lives “and to be able to continue fighting”, while they remained in a hospital north of Bangkok.
“The doctors are worried that our kidneys and other organs will be affected by the long period without food and water,” Tantawan said on Facebook.
Both are charged with the crime of lese majeste – punishable by up to 15 years in prison – for conducting a street survey in 2022 on traffic disruptions caused by the royal motorcade, and are demanding reform of the draconian bail conditions imposed on activists by the courts.
They are also demanding bail for several young people held on remand for various offenses related to the demonstrations that since 2020 have been demanding democratic reform of the country, including the Royal House.
Their hunger strike has done little to slow the authorities’ crackdown on alleged opponents of the monarchy.
On Tuesday, a Bangkok court sentenced a man to two years in prison for parodying King Vajiralongkorn in a calendar featuring a duck with veiled references to the monarch.
The lèse-majesté law, known as Article 112, prescribes prison terms of between 3 and 15 years for anyone who defames, insults or threatens the king, queen or crown prince.
The NGO Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has denounced the increase in lese-majesté cases in Thailand since November 2020, when the government began enforcing the law more heavily to stifle the pro-democracy movement led by university students.
At least 228 people, including minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté since then, according to TLHR, while another 1,890 – including 284 minors – have been charged for crimes related to the protests or political statements. EFE